IDF personnel have taken over the handling of international arrivals at Ben-Gurion Airport. (Ministry of Defense) (Ministry of Defense)
IDF Ben-Gurion Airport

The production line at Elbit Systems Land Division is on track to producing 3,000 ventilators by the end of May, according to a senior source.

By Yaakov Lappin, JNS

Israeli defense company Elbit Systems has set up a new production line to make thousands of advanced ventilators for hospitals in recent days.

A senior company source told JNS that the production line at Elbit Systems Land Division in Ramat Hasharon is on track to producing 3,000 ventilators by the end of May.

“We have enough production workers, whom we will place on the new manufacturing line,” said the source.

A little more than three weeks ago, Elbit turned to the Defense Ministry’s Directorate for Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) and asked how it could help the national response effort. A few days later, the Defense Ministry put it in touch with entrepreneurs—one of whom who had designed a small, compact ventilator, which the Defense Ministry had eyed years ago as a potential battlefield health system for soldiers.

Two weeks ago, the first two prototypes were produced and presented to an inter-agency coronavirus committee based at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. The committee decided to select the LifeCan One smart automatic ventilator as the most suitable and ripe solution. A little less than a week ago, Elbit received an order for 3,000 systems.

“These machines will enable medical centers to provide initial-stage respiration care to a larger number of patients that suffer from less sever respiration conditions, thereby addressing the acute shortage in ventilators,” Elbit said in a statement.

‘Using 3D Printing to Manufacture Components’

Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Dr. Daniel Gold, head of the DDR&D, stated, “The national goal is to reach a fully independent production capability supplying thousands of ventilators to Israel’s health system. The decision to leverage the impressive capabilities of our defense industry that is capable of quality production, in record time, of anything—whether it is unmanned aerial systems or ventilators—is paying off and will enable us to reach the goal set.”

Yehuda Vered, general manager of Elbit Systems Land Division, said “mobilizing our capabilities to help in the fight against the coronavirus is at the core of our mission as a defense technology company. I am proud of our capability to set up quality serial production lines in record time.”

Teams from Elbit Systems Land Division and LifeCan Medical worked together to map out all aspects involved in turning the working prototype that was approved by the Israeli health authorities into a production-ready device.

Elbit tapped into its global operation infrastructure to perform fast acquisition of all the necessary parts. In the meantime, it also used 3D printing to manufacture a number of components and test out how they assemble together.

Elbit received initial approval from the Standards Institution of Israel, which is vital for producing medical machines, as well as a safety approval from the Defense Ministry. The ventilation system must be able to sound an alert if problems arise and prove that it does not interfere with other medical systems, the source explained.

Most of the parts have been ordered from Israeli manufacturers to avoid dependency on foreign suppliers and even the minority of parts that are due to arrive from abroad can be made in Israel using 3D printing, he added.

After the coronavirus pandemic passes, the ventilators might be produced for the Israel Defense Forces as well.

Earlier this month, Israel Aerospace Industries Systems Missiles Space group began churning out hospital ventilators.

Helping the Civilian Population

Meanwhile, various IDF units are working on developing applicable solutions to assist the civilian population. The Israeli Navy’s Commando unit, Shayetet 13, has called on its extensive experience in scuba diving and independent compression of oxygen gas into tanks.

“Over the past few weeks, a number of teams from Shayetet 13 have developed a solution for civilians who are in need of oxygen tanks for medicinal purposes,” the IDF announced on Sunday.

The teams converted an operational production line into a center for compressing medical oxygen into tanks, in line with Health Ministry standards. The elite IDF unit will also take part in the logistics and delivery efforts to get the oxygen tanks to patients.

This IDF initiative has been shared with foreign armies via video and written tutorials, added the military.

In recent days, the IDF’s role in assisting the civilian sphere has continued to grow. On Monday, personnel from the Defense Ministry and Home Front Command, as well as the Health Ministry, began screening Israelis arriving on specially authorized international flights. The defense establishment is now in charge of placing all arrivals at hotels used as isolation centers immediately upon landing for a 14-day period.

On Monday, arrivals from Belarus were taken to the Jerusalem Gold Hotel in the capital.

Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories transferred a coronavirus test-kit analysis machine to the Gaza Strip. The PRC machine, which came from a neighboring state, reached Gazan health authorities via the Erez Crossing, with the assistance of the World Health Organization, and is expected to double the number of tests being performed in Gaza.

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